image from Sycamore Street Press
The year Tim and I turned 40, we traveled to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, to celebrate with two of my closest friends, who were also turning 40, and their families. It was a wonderful trip and my heart is full of memories of watching our children playing together just like we did at their age.
One thing that has stayed with me most was a simple gesture made by my friend’s mother. Her parents had retired and bought a home on the island but of course there were too many of us to stay with them, so we rented a house on the beach. Shortly after we arrived, Mrs. Mac appeared with beach toys and a Harris Teeter bag filled with snacks for the kids. The kids were delighted and we felt so welcomed.
I’ve thought of Mrs. Mac and her gift often since then. What was it that made that act so special? And how could I become a better giver?
There’s an element of risk-taking when you give. What if the person doesn’t like the casserole you made or even takes offense, thinking that he doesn’t need help? Sometimes when we’re not sure of what to do, we don’t do anything.
I’ve mentioned that a close friend from book club lost her husband a few weeks ago. When the group met last Saturday, I asked Judy if she’d mind sharing what has helped her get through this time.
She mentioned food and a friend who came and put fresh sheets on the beds for guests and the CD the church gave her so she could listen to the service again.
She also said a friend of hers who’s been widowed for quite some time has been sending care packages. The first one held a large stuffed dog and timers for lights so she never has to come home to a dark house. There was a flashlight of some kind, although Judy didn’t seem clear on what that was about. The second package was an afghan with a note saying “washed and ready for snuggling.”
How can we give like Mrs. Mac? Maybe your friends are coming to visit from out of town for a funeral. You might put together a gift bag that includes some art supplies or Legos to keep the young ones busy while parents are visiting or helping to make plans. Maybe some books and kid-friendly snacks.
If a friend is going through a difficult time, maybe you send a gift package with nothing particularly useful (like the ginger soak and some chocolate) to let her know you’re thinking of her. I like to hope that when it comes to giving, it truly is the thought that counts.
Do you have a favorite “Mrs. Mac”-type moment, whether you were on the giving or receiving end?
P.S. We stayed at High Tide Cottage. It was amazing. And Lily discovered she’s actually a mermaid.
P.S. again: If you’re a subscriber, I’m sorry you received notice twice with this post―I’m having technical difficulties!